The American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) gave its annual Visionary Award to Tom di Maria, the director of external affairs at Creative Growth Art Center (CGAC), in a ceremony last evening at the museum’s location at 2 Lincoln Square.
Established in 2008, the Visionary Award honors an individual, institution, or project that has made a unique and distinctive contribution to the field of self-taught and vernacular art. The Visionary Award is chaired by Audrey B. Heckler and sponsored by the Foundation to Promote Self-Taught Art.
“Tom Di Maria’s successful stewardship of Creative Growth Art Center has made an incredible impact on the art world and beyond. By establishing a model for a community guided by the principle that art is fundamental to human expression, Tom and his team continue to ensure that all people have opportunities to create,” said Jason T. Busch, director, American Folk Art Museum. “CGAC and AFAM share a deep commitment to artworks that are often informed by personal experience. CGAC’s dedication to providing spaces for expression—for everything from painting to digital media—combined with its work as a gallery, means that it fully supports every step of the creative process for its artists.”
Before the award presentation by Audrey B. Heckler, both Todd Waterbury, chief creative officer at Target, and Kim Hastreiter, cofounder of Paper Magazine, gave remarks. Waterbury noted that “Inclusivity is incredibly important to our brand at Target. We believe that everyone should have a place where they feel like they belong. Six and a half years ago, I had the pleasure of going to Creative Growth. At that moment, I knew that I needed to do everything I could to make sure that more people knew what Tom was doing and what Creative Growth stood for.” Hastreiter commented, “Under Tom’s directorship, the center became stronger every day. He saw Creative Growth as something bigger and took it to another level.”
Di Maria thanked the American Folk Art Museum for the honor. He also affirmed his belief that “museums are a place to stimulate dialogue within communities and facilitate change in society.”
Past recipients of the American Folk Art Museum Visionary Award are Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Rebecca Hoffberger, Phyllis Kind, John Maizels and Raw Vision magazine, Sanford Smith and the Outsider Art Fair, Sam Farber, Lee Kogan, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and its 1982 exhibition Black Folk Art in America 1930-1980, Ruth DeYoung Kohler, and the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.
About Creative Growth Art Center
Creative Growth Art Center is a non-profit based in Oakland, California, that serves artists with developmental, intellectual, and physical disabilities by providing a professional studio environment for artistic development, gallery exhibition, and representation
About the American Folk Art Museum
Since 1961, the American Folk Art Museum has been the leading institution shaping the understanding of art by the self-taught through its exhibitions, publications, and educational programs. As a center of scholarship, it showcases the creativity of individuals whose singular talents have been refined through personal experience rather than formal artistic training. Now celebrating the thirtieth anniversary in its Lincoln Square location and the fifth anniversary at its Collections and Education Center in Long Island City, Queens, its collection includes more than eight thousand works of art from four centuries and nearly every continent — from compelling portraits and dazzling quilts to powerful works by living artists in a variety of mediums.
Photo credit: Bones Photography